Credit: Mashable composite: Getty / TikTok (@followmeaway, @contentbychristina1, @leeshbrock)

Are you planning a summer vacation? If so, you might be using TikTok to plan your trip. Whether it’s choosing a destination or picking out the must-see spots, TikTok has become a go-to platform for travel advice.

TikTok is flooded with lifestyle suggestions covering various topics like skincare, fashion, and yes, travel. For the younger generation, TikTok has evolved into the ultimate travel companion.

Recent research supports this trend. Tripit conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans and discovered that a large number of young travelers turn to TikTok and Instagram for travel inspiration. In fact, 69 percent of Gen-Z and millennial respondents said they look to social media for travel ideas, with 44 percent specifically using TikTok.

The survey also highlighted the shift towards planning travel around pop culture destinations. Americans are now twice as likely to base their trips on pop culture references, with 40 percent indicating interest in doing so in the coming year. Gen-Z and millennial travelers lead this trend, with 2 in 5 Gen-Z individuals having taken a pop-culture-themed trip in the past year.

Travel planning in the influencer age

Social media has significantly influenced travel planning over the past decade. Reddit was popular for travel tips before TikTok emerged, and YouTube influencers now travel with their fans. Instagram has played a crucial role in trip planning, with users seeking out picturesque locations and hidden gems just for the perfect shot. Even with the rise of TikTok, TripIt found that 49 percent of Gen-Z users still turn to Instagram for travel inspiration.

SEE ALSO: Why are cafes, restaurants, and even towns banning influencers?

As Instagram and TikTok continue to shape travel trends, concerns have been raised about the negative impact of social media-driven travel, such as over-tourism and self-centered travel behaviors. Research from the University of Surrey in 2019 highlighted the negative effects of “egocentric photographic and social networking behaviors” on travel destinations. In recent times, influencers have faced bans from popular establishments due to disruptive photoshoots and other issues. The influence of these platforms can either boost or harm tourism for businesses, communities, and entire countries.

TikTok loves a pop culture trip

TikTok has embraced the evolving landscape of travel by fueling a surge in pop culture-themed trips. Users on the platform often explore locations featured in TV shows, movies, and entertainment media. From recreating scenes from Netflix’s “Emily In Paris” in Paris to visiting sites in Dubrovnik, Croatia where “Game of Thrones” was filmed, TikTok has become a hub for pop culture-inspired travel content.

A well-dressed couple stand looking at a view in an estate's leafy grounds, taking a photo on a phone.
“Emily In Paris” itineraries abound on TikTok. Credit: Stéphanie Branchu/Netflix

Driven by TikTok creators, travel trends have become more specialized and popular. From exploring French pharmacies to following Taylor Swift’s and Beyoncé’s music-inspired travel experiences, users are flocking to TikTok for travel inspiration. Hashtags related to cities like Dubai, New York, and Miami have amassed billions of views on the platform, showcasing popular attractions such as beachside restaurants and rooftop spots.

The immense influence of TikTok, with over a billion users globally, has transformed it into a primary search engine for younger individuals. Around 40 percent of young people now prefer using TikTok and Instagram for information over traditional search engines like Google. Serena, a 26-year-old, shared that she opts for TikTok over Google for travel planning due to its curated content and ease of use.

“TikTok has provided me with tailored itineraries and niche recommendations that have been tested by others,” she mentioned. “Compared to Google search results, which can be overwhelming with numerous options, TikTok offers a more focused and personalized approach.”

Several Gen-Z travelers highlighted TikTok’s significant impact on their travel decisions. Individuals like Adam, 25, mentioned that their group plans day trips based on TikTok content, using the platform as a source of travel inspiration. TikTok helps users like Serena ideate and plan trips, providing a helpful resource when feeling overwhelmed about travel choices.

“TikTok is a valuable tool for researching travel. It offers recommendations for restaurants, hotels, and bars,” stated Rohan, 24.

The travel age gap

While younger generations are embracing TikTok for travel inspiration, older generations are more inclined to trust recommendations from family and friends. TripIt’s research shows that Gen-X and Boomer travelers prefer personal recommendations and user review sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp over social media platforms when planning trips.

However, Millennials and Gen Z travelers are more likely to choose travel destinations that have gained popularity on TikTok and Instagram. Airlines, airports, and travel companies are adapting to this shift, with many enhancing their presence on social media platforms to cater to a younger audience. Budget airline Ryanair’s success on TikTok and the active TikTok presence of airports like Singapore’s Changi and London’s Heathrow further illustrate this trend.

If not for TikTok, many travelers would miss out on viral travel trends and destinations. The phrase “I found it on TikTok” has become a common expression, indicating the platform’s profound impact on modern travel practices. This new approach to travel is likely to persist and evolve in the future.

Topics TikTok

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Meera Navlakha
Culture Reporter

Meera is a Culture Reporter at Mashable, joining the UK team in 2021. She writes about digital culture, mental health, big tech, entertainment, and more. Her work has also been published in The New York Times, Vice, Vogue India, and others.


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